In This Review

A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History
A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History
By Bernard Lewis
Random House, 2000, 469 pp

What Bernard Lewis has felicitously called a "mosaic" is in fact an encyclopedic survey of the Middle East, from earliest times to today, presented in the words of Middle Easterners themselves or outsiders viewing the Middle East. Organized into 12 different sections, each with a succinct introduction, the book treats everything from diplomacy, war, and government to women, wit, and cuisine. The many citations range from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures to famous figures throughout the centuries (e.g., Ibn Khaldun, Ataturk, Napoleon) as well as many others known only to specialists. All selections are dated, so the reader can discern continuities or changes over time. Not surprisingly, many of the strangest statements are by outsiders describing Middle Easterners or vice versa. A book that can be read through or dipped into at any point, A Middle East Mosaic will surely be mined by professors and public speakers.